Here we are in Tasmania with Christmas and the New Year celebrations well and truly over. It’s now time to recap our journey since my last blog.
We left Emma’s and headed down towards Victoria, staying 2 nights in Gundagai where we have been before. We explored the town and admired the beautiful unique miniature cathedral made from marble at the visitor centre. This masterpiece was made by Frank Rusconi who also sculpted the “Dog on the Tucker Box that Gundagai is famous for. We studied the beauty and detail of this model using nearly 21,000 individual pieces of cut, turned and hand polished marble to make it. We also learnt that the white marble used came from Coolah, NSW, where Jo and Phil used to live. The process of making this piece took Frank 28 years to complete and again we marvelled at the skill, determination and patience of some people.
After leaving Gundagai we spent one night at the Lockwood free camp, chatted with a local guy and then buying some eggs from him before heading to Wallington and our friends, Dennis and Christine. We again had a great time with these two, enjoying their company and also spending time with their granddaughters, Jade and Addison. Chris helped Dennis with some “Two man jobs” on the property and I was kept busy baking and making pickles and preserves with Christine. I also experimented with a test run Christmas tree made with sticks (thinking of my Christmas on the road in Tassie) for out on the deck at Dennis and Christine’s. We visited the Op Shops, as you do, and I found just a few of the bone china mugs that I like for 50c each. Well that’s a bargain not to be missed!
While at Wallington we ordered a diesel heater that Dennis was to install in our van before our trip to Tassie. Unfortunately with the postal service as it is these days, the heater didn’t arrive until the day before we were due to catch the ferry so is now awaiting our return visit at the end of March. We left Wallington on the 14/12 to get to the Aspley Gardens Caravan Park in readiness for an early start on the Spirit of Tasmania the next morning.
Our trip over to Tassie was good, a smooth and uneventful journey until we got back to our car and found the battery was flat. We can only think that the fridge had drained it and as we had a delayed start time we were on board the ferry longer than usual. Anyway, not to worry. We found one of the staff who then sent someone with some jump leads who had us going in no time. What I thought would be a nightmare turned out thankfully, to be not such a big deal after all.
From the ferry, after the usual Covid paperwork and temperature tests, we went straight to the Devonport Caravan park where we spent a couple of days catching up on washing and buying the fruit, veg and other items that we were not allowed to bring over from the mainland. Now with a few days to spare and Christmas in mind we were looking for a good place to be for our “Christmas on the road” We had thought we would head to Old Mac’s farm at Launceston but we had seen the reviews on WikiCamps of The Blue Wren at Ulverstone and thought this may be a good alternative. We spent 2 night there and decided to come back later for Christmas. We then had 3 days where we stayed at Forest free camp ($5 a night) to check out the north west region of Stanley, the Tarkine, Arthur River and Smithton before heading back to Ulverstone.
We have visited Stanley before and it is always a pleasure. Such a pretty little spot. We had fish and chips for lunch and then Chris decided to do the walk up and around the Nut. After a big lunch I was happy to wait at the bottom.
The next day we drove the circular route around the Tarkine. A large national park and forestry area with lots of bush walking. We did a few short walks and enjoying a picnic lunch, dodging the showers and wrapped up warm but it was still a good day.
We remember last time we were in Tassie (4 years ago) the many fields of poppies we saw. All grown for the pharmaceutical companies. This trip the poppies are still in bloom with most we’ve seen being a very pale, nearly white, lilac in colour. From a distance they look like a light scattering of snow, perhaps appropriate for an English Christmas scene.
While at Forest we enjoyed the Christmas festivities of the Blackberry Inn community club where we were staying, chatting with locals, watching Santa arrive on his motorbike with presents for the kids and I even managed to win a prize on the raffle.
Next day we checked out the town of Smithton before heading back to pack up the van for our return to the Blue Wren and Christmas preparations.
As the Blue Wren cafe was closed to the public for two weeks all us campers were to have our celebrations in there and the plan was for everyone to bring a plate of food and their own drinks. Peta and Ross the owners had set the cafe up with tables laid even including Christmas crackers. The food that we all brought was a feast to behold. There was so much food that lasted from lunch through to dinner and a good time was had by all. Our contribution was some turkey with stuffing balls, small sausages and cranberry sauce and a vanilla slice for desert. There was turkey, ham, crayfish, seafood chowder, cheeses, dips, every kind of salad you could think of, roast and steamed veggies. Deserts were my vanilla slice (which went down very well) Christmas pudding, pavlovas, cheesecakes, mince pies, fresh fruit, home made sweets and chocolates. so much food I felt somewhat uncomfortable by the end of the day.
We both enjoyed our Christmas and it was everything we had hoped it would be, sharing our day with fellow travellers. We couldn’t have asked for anything better but I do have to admit, I still missed family. It’s not the same, less expensive, less work, less stress, yes, but definitely not the same!
We spent two weeks at the Blue Wren enjoying another great get together around the fire at the Protea Bar for New Years Eve and happy hour every afternoon with fellow campers. We watched a wedding in the beautiful gardens. We explored Goat Island, just across the road from us and we waved to the train driver as the very long good’s train weaved it’s way along the picturesque coastline. Chris got in a few games of golf with the boys and we explored the Gunn Plains Cave and bush walked another day. A big highlight for us was a day trip we made in Barry and Trish’s car, following David, John, Lindsey, Doreen and Judy. David has been a farmer all his life and he took us on a drive showing us (as far as the roads would allow) where he used to drove cattle on horseback through the bush about 50 years ago. He told us of the big long days where they drove 200-250 cattle about 25 miles(40kms) from Ulverstone, through sth.Nietta and Castra, crossing the Wilmott river where there is now a dam, across Button Grass Plains and the Leah and Iris rivers to the camp at Station Creek. (I hope I’ve got that all right, David!) We stopped for an impromptu lunch by the side of the road, eating cheese and biscuits while the sausages and onions cooked. The sausage sandwiches were then followed up with homemade white Christmas and chocolate biscuits. Then it was a quick dash to clear up as the rain came down. We had such a good day and we haven’t laughed so much as with these guys, for such a long time. As we go our seperate ways we have promised to meet up again while we are here in Tassie. David reminded me of my dad in a way. His farming background, his wicked sense of humour (a bit near the mark!) and the way he gets a fit of the giggles as he tries to say something funny. Lovely people!
After saying our goodbyes today (which took a while!) we pulled out of the Blue Wren Ulverstone, feeling sad to leave but ready to move on as we head towards Railton, only about 45 kms away.
Again we are enjoying the beautiful state of Tasmania with it great scenery and friendly people. We appreciate that it’s probably the safest place in Australia at the moment with more cases of Covid breaking out on the mainland and more border closures again. Oh well, I wonder what 2021 holds for us all? Stay safe everyone and do the right thing!